6/2/22-Songwriter/Producer Paul Vance dies

todayJune 2, 2022



Paul Vance has died at 92.

He was born Joseph Paul Florio in Brooklyn, New York, United States. With over 300 recorded songs, Vance co-wrote (with Lee Pockriss) such hits as “Catch a Falling Star,” recorded in 1957 by Perry Como, which topped Billboard’s “Most Played By Jockeys” chart and became one of Como’s signature songs, and “Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka Dot Bikini,” recorded in 1960 by Brian Hyland, which rose to number one on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. Vance got the idea for “Itsy Bitsy Bikini” because his daughter was too shy to wear a bikini in public. The song was a Top 10 hit in other countries around the world. In 1959, Vance and Pockriss released a single for Columbia Records as ‘Lee and Paul,’ a novelty tune called “The Chick.” Vance and Pockriss also provided English lyrics for the song “Calcutta”. “What Will Mary Say”, a Top 10 hit for the singer Johnny Mathis in 1963, was written by Vance with Eddie Snyder.

In 1964, Vance and Pockriss wrote a song entitled “Leader Of The Laundromat,” a spoof of the then-popular “Leader of the Pack” by the Shangri-Las, and Vance produced a recording of the track by a trio consisting of Ron Dante, Tommy Wynn, and Vance’s nephew Danny Jordan. The record was released under the name the Detergents, and its success led to an album, The Many Faces Of The Detergents, which Vance produced and for which he, along with Pockriss, penned all the songs. The release of “Leader of the Laundromat” earned a lawsuit against the group by “Leader Of The Pack” composers Jeff Barry, Ellie Greenwich, and George “Shadow” Morton. Dante would later work alongside Barry as lead vocalist for the Archies.

In 1969, Vance teamed up with Dante after the latter agreed to record a demo of the new Vance/Pockriss composition, “Tracy.” Dante provided all the voices on the recording, both leads and backgrounds, and the single was released under the name The Cuff Links. Its success prompted Vance to bring Dante back into the recording studio to record an entire album’s worth of songs, and the resultant LP, also entitled Tracy, was rush-released to capitalize on the popularity of the single. As with The Detergents’ album, Vance produced the recording sessions and co-wrote all of the songs with Pockriss.

In 1972, Vance and Pockriss penned “Playground In My Mind,” which was recorded by Clint Holmes, and became a 1973 #2 hit on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, where it remained for 23 weeks. The single was awarded gold record status on July 3, 1973. Vance’s son, Philip, sang on the refrain on the recording along with Holmes. In 1974, Vance discovered singer/songwriter Joseph Nicoletti, later a successful singer of commercial jingles, and recorded “Changing Colors” with Nicoletti on RCA Records.

Vance co-wrote and produced the song “Run Joey Run” for David Geddes in 1975; the song reached the top 5 on the Billboard charts that year. The female vocals on the song were provided by Vance’s daughter Paula, who had earlier inspired “Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka Dot Bikini.”

In October 2009, Vance was nominated for induction into the Songwriters Hall of Fame.

Vance was also a successful owner of harness racing horses. According to the United States Trotting Association he owned or leased 167 horses during his career, including record winner Secret Service, trained by his son Joseph Vance.

Written by: Barry Scott

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